At least 223 people were killed and more than 350 injured in a horrific triple train crash on Friday in Odisha's Balasore district involving the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and a goods train, officials said. The death count of 223 has been confirmed by the chief secretary of the Odisha government, says a report by ndtv.com.
Wielding gas torches and electric cutters, rescuers worked through the night to pull out survivors and the dead from the mangled steel of three trains that derailed one on top of another in a horrific sequence.
On Saturday, railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw visited the accident site in Odisha's Balasore. Vaishnaw said the main focus now is rescue and relief operations. He said the Commissioner of Railway Safety, South East Circle will inquire into the Odisha train accident.
- PM Modi to go to Odisha today, will visit accident site and hospital: Govt sources, reports PTI
- PM Narendra Modi convenes meeting to review situation in relation to train accident in Odisha: Govt sources, reports PTI
* An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each deceased in the train mishap in Odisha. The injured would be given Rs. 50,000, says PM Modi
- Although the cause of accident has not been officially cited so far, prima facie evidence suggests there may have been some technical glitches either with the train or with the tracks which may have caused the horrible accident
- The Bangladesh Deputy High Commission has also announced a dedicated WhatsApp number for enquiry. That's because a large no of Bangladeshi patients avail of the Coromandel Express to travel to Chennai for medical treatment.
- In all 30 trains stand cancelled, 26 diverted via different routes and two trains have been short-terminated by South Eastern Railways so far
- Impact of the collision was so severe that compartments of the two trains climbed atop each other
- Casualty figure high in Coramandel Exp because the train was packed to capacity and many passengers were standing near compartment exits
- Three NDRF teams working at the crash site in Odisha's Balasore district while six more are being rushed to the spot: Officials
- A team from Bengal govt led by minister Manas Bhunia is scheduled to reach the accident site and also visit injured in different hospitals on Saturday
- A SPl Control Room has become functional for the assistance of the family members of the victims
How it happened
According to officials, several coaches of the 12864 Bengaluru-Howrah train travelling to Howrah got derailed at Bahanaga Baazar, near Balasore and fell on adjacent tracks.
"These derailed coaches collided with 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and its coaches capsized too," a senior official said.
A goods train was also involved in the accident as the coaches of the Coromandel Express hit its wagons after getting derailed, the official said.
The accident happened around 7 pm, he said.
A PTI reporter at the spot said several people were trapped under the derailed coaches, and locals were assisting emergency services personnel to rescue them, but darkness was hindering the operation.
From the spot
The local villagers were the first to reach the site and try and help the passengers, pulling out the wounded and the dead from bogies, some of which were nothing but a “mangled heap of steel”, according to eye-witnesses.
A passenger Rupam Banerjee told newspersons, “the local people really went out on a limb to help us … not only helping pull out people but retrieve our luggage and get us water.” Gas cutters are being used to open bogies and bathrooms to rescue people. Some of the scenes at the site “were too gory to describe,” said another passenger, who added that most people who were trapped by the accident have been rescued.
Fifty doctors from different hospitals in neighbouring districts have been rushed to the spot to treat the injured at the accident site and 115 ambulances were brought in to remove the wounded.
All government and private hospitals in Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurhbanj, Cuttack and Bhubaneshwar have been put on alert to receive the injured.
Update from Odisha CM, PM Modi
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said he was rushing to the accident site, while Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is expected to be also at the site by tomorrow morning.
"Rushing to the site in Odisha. My prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured and condolences to the bereaved families.
Rescue teams mobilised from Bhubaneswar and Kolkata. NDRF, State govt. teams and Airforce also mobilised. Will take all hands required for the rescue ops," he tweeted.
He also announced ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the deceased, Rs 2 lakh for those grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for those who got minor injuries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed his distressed.
"Distressed by the train accident in Odisha. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. Spoke to Railway Minister @AshwiniVaishnaw and took stock of the situation. Rescue ops are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given to those affected," he tweeted.
Four units of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), three units of NDRF and 60 ambulances were working to rescue the injured, officials said.
The Odisha government has issued helpline 06782-262286. The railway helplines are 033-26382217 (Howrah), 8972073925 (Kharagpur), 8249591559 (Balasore) and 044- 25330952 (Chennai).
Mamata expresses concern
Expressing concern over the accident, in which a large number of people from West Bengal were involved, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was monitoring the situation along with the chief secretary and other officials.
Mamata, state government sources said, was expected to take a chopper from Dumurjola, Howrah, and land at a helipad in Balasore and then move to hospitals by road.
West Bengal Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi added that the state government was also sending a team led by minister Manas Bhunia and MP Dola Sen to the spot.